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How has neuroscience affected lay understandings of personhood? A review of the evidence.

O'Connor, C; Joffe, H; (2013) How has neuroscience affected lay understandings of personhood? A review of the evidence. Public Underst Sci , 22 (3) 254 - 268. 10.1177/0963662513476812. Green open access

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Abstract

The prominence of neuroscience in the public sphere has escalated in recent years, provoking questions about how the public engages with neuroscientific ideas. Commentaries on neuroscience's role in society often present it as having revolutionary implications, fundamentally overturning established beliefs about personhood. The purpose of this article is to collate and review the extant empirical evidence on the influence of neuroscience on commonsense understandings of personhood. The article evaluates the scope of neuroscience's presence in public consciousness and examines the empirical evidence for three frequently encountered claims about neuroscience's societal influence: that neuroscience fosters a conception of the self that is based in biology, that neuroscience promotes conceptions of individual fate as predetermined, and that neuroscience attenuates the stigma attached to particular social categories. It concludes that many neuroscientific ideas have assimilated in ways that perpetuate rather than challenge existing modes of understanding self, others and society.

Type: Article
Title: How has neuroscience affected lay understandings of personhood? A review of the evidence.
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0963662513476812
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0963662513476812
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2013. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page(http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).
Keywords: folk psychology, neuroscience, public engagement with science
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1370437
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